Background To Recent Events
On 28 October 2014 instructors received a personalized hand delivered letter outlining a set of changes to their contracts as well as notification of a new Full Time Instructor Contract. The Berlitz Branch union contested the arbitrary changes in collective bargaining on a number of points:
The announcement of arbitrary changes was made public without any preconsultation which we feel violates one of our union and company collective agreements.
The changes were offering an overall pay increase of approximately 2.9% for an extra 12.5% work time and did not resolve linked outstanding issues that were still pending.
A significant number of instructors became concerned that well established work practices; National Holiday Allowance, Sunday Rate, Commutation Allowance, and the introduction of a degrading contract were introduced as part of a clawback action.
After NO progress was made in collective bargaining between the Berlitz Branch members and management, we served notice that a strike mandate was approved with a February 1st, 2015 deadline to begin the dispute. Prior to the deadline, we are happy to announce that the company took its plans for clawbacks off the table. We're confident that a tripling of membership and a positive strike vote played a big role in having the company rethink its unilateral proposals. Since Berlitz has made this move, union members are continuing to negotiate with the company.
What happens now?
The strike has been postponed, but not cancelled, and we are hoping to win our demands to improve wages and working conditions at the bargaining table.
What can you do?
Members can continue to have a voice through our various modes of communication and are actively encouraged to volunteer for our bargaining committee. This allows all members to direct our actions and be part of the decision making process. The Berlitz Branch is simply you and your colleagues, backed up by General Union members in language schools, universities, and other workplaces across Japan.
Non members will see periodic Berlitz Branch updates offering information on negotiations and actions but the only way to become fully informed and have your voice truly heard is to become a member. The Berlitz Branch can only negotiate on behalf of union members through a well structured democratic process.
The changes management proposed have been taken off the table for now with a view to implementation at a later date after revisions are made through a democratic process that is fully acceptable to all members.
The Berlitz Branch is made up of a broad spectrum of instructors and our views will differ. However, our ultimate aim is to negotiate a balance that all members will be happy with for the long term. We encourage non members to join the Berlitz Branch and become part of the decision making process along with your member colleagues.